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Getting started with the Swift API

Find out how to use the Swift API

Last updated 14th October 2020


You can use the OpenStack APIs to generate different scripts in order to automate your actions on the Public Cloud.

The OpenStack swiftclient lets you interact with and manage your containers and objects. For example, you can upload files to your containers regularly in order to back them up.

This guide will help you get started with the OpenStack APIs in order to manage your object containers using the python-swiftclient.


  • Preparing the environment to use the OpenStack API by installing python-swiftclient
  • Setting the OpenStack environment variables


Swift documentation

You can retrieve the list of possible commands from the client's documentation:

admin@serveur-1:~$ swift --help

Here is the list of the main commands:

Command Description
delete Deletes a container or objects within a container
download Downloads objects from containers
list Lists the containers for the account or the objects for a container
post Updates meta information for the account, container, or object. If the container is not found, it will be created automatically.
stat Displays information for the account, container, or object.
upload Uploads specified files and directories to the given container.
capabilities Retrieves capability of the proxy.
tempurl Generates a temporary URL for a Swift object.

For help on a specific Swift command, enter "--help" at the end of it:

admin@serveur-1:~$ swift post --help

Updates meta information for the account, container, or object.
If the container is not found, it will be created automatically.

Positional arguments:
[container] Name of container to post to.
[object] Name of object to post. Specify multiple times
for multiple objects.

You can also find the Swift documentation on the OpenStack website

Creating a public object container

  • Create the container "container1":
admin@serveur-1:~$ swift post container1
  • Configure the access rights to make your container public:
admin@serveur-1:~$ swift post --header "X-Container-Read: .r:*" container1
  • Check the container configuration:
admin@serveur-1:~$ swift stat container1

Account: AUTH_b3e26xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxb0ba29
Container: container1
Objects: 0
Bytes: 0
Read ACL: .r:*
Write ACL:
Sync To:
Sync Key:
Accept-Ranges: bytes
X-Trans-Id: B2210C05:8D93_052711A1:01BB_561CC9DF_1B305:30D7
X-Storage-Policy: Policy-0
Connection: close
X-Timestamp: 1444726875.27475
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

Uploading files to your container

  • Upload the content of a local folder to a container:
admin@serveur-1:~$ swift upload container1 images/


A prefix will automatically be added to your files if you send an entire folder and not a single file.

  • List a container's files:
admin@serveur-1:~$ swift list container1


You can display the files with a particular prefix using the "--prefix" argument:

admin@serveur-1:~$ swift list container1 --prefix images


If the container is configured as public, you can access the file using a URL:

This URL is made up of an endpoint, which you can get from the Access and Security menu in Horizon, the name of your container and the name of your object (including the prefix).

Downloading files

  • Download a file:
admin@serveur-1:~$ swift download container1 text1.txt

text1.txt [auth 0.328s, headers 0.452s, total 0.453s, 0.000 MB/s]

You can download multiple files with the same prefix, using the following command:

admin@serveur-1:~$ swift download container1 --prefix images

images/OVHlogo.png [auth 0.383s, headers 0.520s, total 0.522s, 0.135 MB/s]
images/OVHSummitKeynote.jpg [auth 0.371s, headers 0.514s, total 0.559s, 2.657 MB/s]

Deleting containers or objects

  • Delete a file:
admin@serveur-1:~$ swift delete container1 text1.txt


As with downloading, you can delete lots of files using the same prefix, with the following command:

admin@serveur-1:~$ swift 
delete container1 images/*

  • Delete a container:
admin@serveur-1:~$ swift delete container1


This will delete all the files in the container.

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